Jobless rate hits double digits in Southwest Georgia - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Jobless rate hits double digits in Southwest Georgia

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The Metro-Albany area unemployment rate, which includes Baker, Dougherty, Lee, Terrell, Worth Counties rate is up to 10.1 percent.

Some counties have faired better than others. The state's average is at an all time high and matches southwest Georgia at 10.1.

Only 330 of the 1,400 employees who worked here at Cooper Tire remain on the job. They're still producing tires here, but more than a thousand former employees are now a part of the spiking unemployment numbers.

Today those looking for a job say it's harder than ever as community leaders continue the effort to bring jobs back to southwest Georgia.

Leona Williams lost her job hauling freight 18 months ago. She's been running into road blocks ever since trying to find a new job. "Every state wants to keep what little jobs they have going on now, they're trying to keep them for their people in for their state. I applied in Alabama and I've applied in Texas," she said.

She's now considering work overseas. At the Department of Labor managers say it takes being flexible like willing to relocate to get a job as unemployment numbers reach double digits.

"Goodyear Tire came in to hire some of the Cooper Tire folks but all of the positions were out of state, they were recruiting and some of the companies will pay relocation costs and things of that nature so there are opportunities," said Robert Gordon, Albany Career Center Acting Manager.

Those opportunities are in healthcare and educational services where 12,000 jobs have been created. Economic Development officials continue to do what they can to make southwest Georgia attractive to new business.

"We created this new tax zone by the military base and we're hoping that could encourage some businesses that would do business around the base to come," said Mayor Willie Adams.

With many businesses simply in survival mode, tax breaks, look to keep the jobs that remain.

"Our task is to try and help them, give them tools we can provide locally wether it's through our local governments with potential tax abatements like we've done with P&G or really just help them with any issues they might see," said Ted Clem, Albany Dougherty Economic Development Commission President.

Labor officials say it's the smaller businesses that are hiring, although those jobs are few, meaning those out of work can expect to be unemployed longer if they're not willing to jump on any opportunity that opens.

"It's for a training position and I've trained before so, it's not one of the best things I want to do but, if push comes to shove and I can't go overseas then, I will take that position," said Leona.

200 of the remaining 330 employees here have already received their WARN notice, meaning in less than 60 days they'll join the rising unemployment numbers. Production is slated to stop at Cooper Tire in October.

Lee County has one of the best jobless rates in the state, but it is still high at 7.5%. Among the worst in the state are Ben Hill and Irwin Counties with jobless rates over 15 percent.

      • Click HERE for county-by-county unemployment statistics.

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